Business Writing Essentials

Align Story

Every sentence we write is being read twice: in the reader's brain there is a grammar reader and a story reader. The grammar reader follows the structure of the sentence. The story reader follows the meaning of the sentence. Alignment occurs when the grammar matches the story, and it's this alignment that makes a sentence 'more clear'. Here is the breakdown of grammar and story for a misaligned sentence:

A decision was made by the Mint to keep the penny.
[not the easiest to read and comprehend]

subject: decision verb: was made

actor: Mint action: decided

Using the story, rewrite the sentence to get the aligned, and therefore clear, version:

actor: Mint action: decided

subject: Mint verb: decided

The Mint decided to keep the penny.

To create alignment:

  1. Identify the actor (person or thing) and make it the subject.

  2. Identify the action of the actor and make it the verb.

  3. Rewrite the sentence using the new subject and verb.

Note: Sometimes it is easier to first identify the main action in the sentence, then find the appropriate actor.

Lesson: Align Story
Module: Clarity
Course: Business Writing Essentials